Saffron Rice with Prawns

I found this recipe in a book called ‘Gorgeous Suppers’ by Annie Bell – a present given to me a few years ago that I haven’t made as much use of as I should. You can get the book here. In her book she calls this recipe ‘oven-baked saffron rice with prawns and scallops’ – I had to take out the scallops due to not being able to get them unless I paid a fortune for the huge ones in their shells (not prepared to go that far for a weeknight dinner!).

The concept of cooking a risotto in the oven was new to me, and to be honest I was a little hesitant about how well it would work after knowing how much you have to tend the pan when cooking a risotto properly on the hob. However, I stand corrected. This was so easy and  the consistency was amazing. I will try my next chicken and mushroom risotto in the oven too and see if it works just as well! I was also a bit suspicious of the amount of parmesan going in as I’m not sure parmesan and seafood always goes that well together, but again this was a really nice surprise. The flavours of saffron, parmesan and prawns came together beautifully and made a really rich, luxurious risotto.

Ingredients – serves four (or two with leftovers for lunch!)

  • one large knob of butter plus a few small ones
  • one white onion, finely diced
  • about 300g of arborio risotto rice (I counted five handfuls)
  • 750ml of fish stock
  • a large pinch of saffron (I think the more the better – it looked like about 30 strands)
  • one small glass of white wine
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan (or about 3 handfuls)
  • 300g raw king prawns
  • 100-150g small cooked prawns (or 4-6 scallops if using instead)

Method – takes no more than 45 minutes from start to finish

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan) and find a suitable ovenproof dish for the rice.

Sweat the onion in the butter in a heavy based saucepan for a few minutes until softened. Meanwhile make your stock if using cubes or warm through if using fresh (I used cubes and it tasted great). In a separate dish pour a small amount of boiling water on the saffron and allow to soften. Try to blend with the back of a spoon to bring out the flavour into the water.

Add the rice to the pan and stir well. Pour in the wine and leave to absorb for a couple of minutes. Stir in the stock, saffron mixture and plenty of seasoning, then bring to the boil. Pour carefuly into your ovenproof dish trying to evenly distribute the rice. Cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Towards the end of this cooking time grate the parmesan and season the raw prawns. Remove the risotto after the 15 mins and stir through the seafood carefully. Sprinkle the parmesan all over the top and dot a few extra knobs of butter, then recover with foil and put back in the over for 15 more minutes. I misread the recipe here – Annie says to leave it uncovered at this point but I felt that the moisture was kept by me recovering it. Maybe a few minutes without the foil would be a good idea if you want to crisp up the parmesan but I personally liked the soft classic risotto-like consistency.

Serve the dish on the table with something green. I stir fried some spinach and kale with butter and lemon but a nice salad would work well too.

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